February 2007

A letter for the ill, the aged, the shut-in, and the handicapable

Published by the National Family Commission

Secular Franciscan Order USA 

      Every spring the church invites all of us on a Lenten journey. During this time we reflect on Jesus' final journey from death to resurrection. We too can journey with Jesus. This is a time to reflect on specific areas of our own life that need transformation and resurrection. 

      As with any journey, I need to pack the essentials for the trip. First, I need to find the time to spend with Jesus every day. We have been called to "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalms 46:10). Commit myself to a daily appointment. And I need a quiet, comfortable place with my Bible, prayerbook, a journal and a spiritual book to read - maybe one about St Francis and his life.  

      Preparation for the journey. Have I gone to the Sacrament of Reconciliation recently? Do I make an examination of conscience every evening before going to sleep? Have I forgiven those who have hurt me? Let go of anger and perceived hurts? Lent is a time to grow deeper in our Lord.  

A journey always has a destination in mind. Lent is no different. I ask myself where do I want to be spiritually in 40 days? The Rule of Saint Francis states that we must fast during Lent. What do I need to give up in order to create new life-giving spiritual growth? Maybe I've wanted to read the scriptures on a more regular basis. Or get around to reading a spiritual book that's gathered dust on my shelf. Choose something that will bring me closer to the person God has created me to be. 

Our journey begins on Ash Wednesday with the words: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return". The ashes signify that Christ crucified has redeemed me. Christ died for me, how can I die to self and grow closer to Him? Along the way I ask myself what in my life needs to die, to be transformed, to rise in a new way. Maybe there are areas of my life that need letting go. A relationship, grief or even the hope that health and wellness will return. Prayer and contemplation will bring these things to light. Journaling the trip will chronicle the growth and insights gained during our Lenten path. Meditation upon a crucifix is also an amazing practice during Lent.

Saint Francis' Prayer before the Crucifix

Most High, glorious God, 
enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me 
true faith, certain hope, and perfect charity, 
sense and knowledge, Lord, that I may carry out 
Your holy and true command.

      The Franciscan friars have a prayer that says: "When the world was going cold, You renewed the marks of Your passion in the flesh of our Father Francis and so rekindled our love for You." St Francis' stigmata came during a time of intense prayer during Lent. May we recognize God's great love for us.  

      And when Easter arrives, we can look back on our Lenten journey with gratitude and see all the things we have let go and left behind. And with joy, see the progress we have made.

We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!


That I may let go of grudges in order to forgive 
That I may let go of past hurts so that I can be healed 
That I may let go of judgments in order to accept 
That I may let go of pity in order to be compassionate 
That I may let go of greed in order to give to those in need 
That I may let go of negativity in order to be positive 
That I may let go of blame so that I can affirm. 
That I may let go of hate in order to love 
That I may let go of control in order to serve.

By: Anne Killian, SFO

St. Maximilian Kolbe Fraternity

Previous issue (January 2007)